Thursday, May 31, 2018

Month in review and a few reviews - Sometimes I Lie; Alice Feeney and The Sinner; Petra Hammesfahr

The 5th month of 2018 bites the dust and once again in retirement I'm reading fewer books than when I worked.  So far in 2018 I've read (40) books (7 in May). 

Favorite Book for May

Books Read in 2018

  1. The Flight Attendant; Chris Bohjalian - 3/5 (eGalley) Jan/2018
  2. Small Great Things; Jodi Picoult (reread book group) - 4.5/5 (audio) Jan/2018
  3. My Absolute Darling; GabrielTallent - 4/5 (eGalley) Jan/2018
  4. Sisters; Lily Tuck - 5/5 (library) Jan/2018
  5. An American Marriage; Tayari Jones - 4/5 (eGalley) Jan/2018
  6. Why I Read: The Serious Pleasure of Books (NF); Wendy Lesser - 3.5/5 (library) Jan/2018
  7. Alternate Side; Anna Quindlen - 3.5/5 (eGalley) Jan/2018
  8. I Married You for Happiness; Lily Tuck - 4/5 (library) Jan/2018
  9. The Woman in the Window; A.J. Finn - 4/5 (eGalley) Feb/2018
  10. Nomadland; Jessica Bruder - 4.5/5 NF/library Feb/2018
  11. Saints for All Occasions; J. Courtney Sullivan - (my shelves) 4.5/5 - Feb/2018
  12. Girl on the Train; Paula Hawkins (reread/book group) - 4/5 - Feb/2018
  13. Census; Jesse Ball - (eGalley) 4/5 - Feb/2018 
  14. I'm a Duck; Eve Bunting - (my shelves) 4.5/5 - March/2018
  15. Windows; Julia Denos - (my shelves) 4.5/5 - March/2018
  16. The Tip Toeing Tiger; Philippa Leathers - (my shelves) 4.5/5 - March/2018
  17. The Perfect Neighbors; Sarah Pekkanen - (eGalley) 3.5/5 - March/2018
  18. White Houses; Amy Bloom - (eGalley) 3.5/5 - March/2018
  19. Best Day Ever; Kaira Rouda - (library) 4.5/5 - March/2018
  20. Lucky Us; Amy Bloom (library/ book group read) 4/5 - March/2018
  21. Mercury; Margot Livesey (eGalley) 3.5/5 - March/2018
  22. The Other Girl; Erica Spindler (audio) 3/5 - March/2018
  23. Trick; Domenico Starnone - (library) 4.5/5 - March/2018
  24. Sunburn; Laura Lippman - eGalley 5/5 - April/2018
  25. Everything Here is Beautiful; Miranda Lee - library - 4.5/5 - April/2018
  26. Tangerine; Christine Mangan - eGalley/eAudio - 4.5/5 - April/2018
  27. I Am, I Am, I Am: Seventeen Brushes with Death; Maggie O'Farrell - library 4/5 - April/2018
  28. Girl in Snow; Danya Kukafka - eGalley - 3.5/5 - April/2018
  29. The Ninth Hour; Alice McDermott - library/audio - 4.5/5 - April/2018
  30. The Nest; Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney (reread/bookgroup-April) - 3.5/5 - April/2018
  31. Let Me Lie; Clare Mackintosh (audio) - 4/5 - April/2018
  32. Rainbirds; Clarissa Goenawan (library) - 5/5 - April/2018
  33. A Noise Downstairs; Linwood Barclay (eGalley) - 5/5 - April/2018
  34. Eight Hundred Grapes; Laura Dave (audio/library) - 4/5 May/2018
  35. The Death of Mrs Westaway; Ruth Ware - (eGalley) - 4.5/5  May/2018
  36. All the Beautiful Lies; Peter Swanson (eGalley/library audio) - 3.5/5 - May/2018
  37. The Cuban Affair; Nelson DeMille (library audio) - 2.5/5 - May/2018
  38. Sometimes I Lie; Alice Feeney (library) - 4/5 May/2018
  39. The Sinner; Petra Hammesfahr (audio & print) - 4/5 - May/2018
  40. The Female Persuasion; Meg Wolitzer (audio) - 4/5 - May/2018

Sometimes I Lie; Alice Feeney
Flatiron Books - 2018

"My name is Amber Reynolds. There are three things you should know about me:

1. I'm in a coma
2. My husband doesn't love me
3. Sometimes I Lie

Amber Reynolds, a radio show presenter, wakes up in a London hospital. She's in a coma and can't move or speak but, she can hear every word that those around her speak in her hospital room.  She's not quite sure what happened to her but she's pretty sure that her husband Paul had something to do with her being in a coma.

This certainly was an impressive, twisty, psychological thriller debut novel. The story is told from three timelines: the present from the hospital bed, the week before the accident and from 25 year old childhood diaries.  There are a number of twists along the way, especially towards the end, some felt a bit unrealistic and oftentimes I wasn't sure what was true and what was a lie.  Even though this was at times a bit confusing, I quickly turned the pages and was happy I tried this one. I would definitely read another book by this promising new author.

Rating - 4.5/5

The Sinner; Petra Hammesfahr
Bitter Lemon Books - 2008

On a sunny afternoon at the lake with her husband and young child, Cora Bender stabs a stranger to death on the beach while the man's girlfriend and onlookers watch in shock.

So right off the reader knows who committed murder but, the mystery to unravel is why she did it.
As the investigator digs deep into Cora's childhood and family situation, the truth is slowly revealed but, before that happens one must sort out what is the truth and what is a lie.

This story pulled me in right away and I loved watching Cora's character develop. She's complicated and her dysfunctional childhood and marriage on the rocks were fascinating to delve into.  The Sinner is a very dark story with a good amount of shock value. The character development was well done and the story kept me guessing. Unfortunately, the translation, from the German, was a bit challenging at times, especially the names.  For whatever reason the story flowed better on audio than it did in print for me.

Rating - 4/5

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

All the Beautiful Lies; Peter Swanson and The Cuban Affair; Nelson DeMille

All the Beautiful Lies; Peter Swanson
2018 - Harper Audio (William Morrow)
Sarah Mollo Christiansen (reader)

In this stand alone psychological thriller, Harry Ackerson is getting ready to graduate from college when his stepmother, Alice calls to say that his father has fallen from a cliff and has died. Although the police suspect it was a suicide, there is a chance that he may have been murdered. Devastated, Harry returns home to Maine where his father ran a book store to grieve and to help settle his affairs..

Harry's stepmother Alice is only 35, she's attractive and was some 20 years younger than Bill, Harry's father.  As a teen Harry always fantasized about Alice while he was living at home.  When another young attractive young woman mysteriously shows up at the book store Bill had owned while Harry is sorting through his father's business affairs, the plot thickens. It appears as if she may have been romantically involved with Bill as well while he was working at another book store in New York.

The story shifts from present to past with a fair amount of sexual tension along the way.  There were a few twists to make the reader wonder but, overall I thought the outcome was fairly easy to predict.  This was fun to listen to on my walks but, overall, I preferred the author's previous book, Her Every Fear, much more.

Rating - 3.5/5 stars

The Cuban Affair; Nelson DeMille
Simon & Schuster Audio - 2017

Daniel McCormick, is a 35 year old decorated, Afghanistan Veteran who now owns and operates, The Maine,  a charter fishing boat out of Key West.  Mac is offered $2,000,000 by a Cuban American lawyer named Carlos to take his boat to Havana to smuggle back a cache of cash, treasure and documents hidden from the Castro regime during the revolution. It's believed the loot is worth some $60,000,000.

Many of DeMille's earlier novels which featured John Corey, were a must read for me, Corey was a tough talking central character who was always full of wise cracks. He almost always had an attractive woman by his side that he met as part of his mission.  "The Cuban Affair's" Mac, possesses similar traits to Corey and he also had a sexy counterpart named Sara Ortega by his side, but I missed the old central character.  Unfortunately, a few wise cracks go a long way and after a while the humor seemed a bit forced and over the top. Although I loved how well DeMille researched information about Cuba and its history, overall, this story was far too long and dragged on and on.  We recently listened to this on a road trip and we found ourselves fast-forwarding at several intervals that seemed to be a bit too over the top for us.  Overall, this audio book, read by Scott Brick was fun to listen to but, it missed its mark. I do miss the earlier DeMille, John Corey books.

Rating - 2.5/5 stars

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday intros - The Sinner; Petra Hammesfahr

On Tuesdays First Chapter, First Paragraph/Intros is hosted by Vickie/ I’d Rather Be at the Beach Readers are asked to share the first paragraph of a book they are reading or plans to read soon.  This week's selection hooked me right away.

The Sinner; Petra Hammesfahr
Bitter Lemon Press - 2007


"It was a hot day at the beginning of July when Cora Bender decided to die.  Green had made love to her the night before.  He made love to her regularly every Friday and Saturday night.  She couldn't bring herself to refuse him, being only too well aware how much he needed it. And she loved Gereon.  It was more than love. It was gratitude and utter submission -- something absolute, and unconditional.

Green had enabled her to be a normal young woman like any other.  That was why she wanted him to be happy and contented.  She used to enjoy his lovemaking, but that had stopped six months ago."

I've been listening to the audio and reading a print copy of this one.  It was recommended years ago by Jackie@ Farm Lane Books Blog.

What do you think? Read more or pass?

Saturday, May 26, 2018

Memorial Day Thoughts and a question, " Where Have All Book Bloggers Gone"?

This weekend we take time to remember the brave men and women, both past and present, who served our country.   Thank you.

How do you plan to spend Memorial Day weekend; do you have any rituals?

We started off our weekend delivering flowers to (4) different cemeteries in the area.  My parents, grandparents and aunts and uncles are at one cemetery buried in a large family plot, while both of my brothers are buried in (2) different cemeteries in the area. My husband also had a friend who passed away last year so we also brought flowers to his grave at a 4th cemetery.

Monday my son is having a cookout and our whole family will be together so I'm looking forward to that as well.

As many of my remaining, loyal readers have witnessed, after nearly (10) years of blogging (mid June-2008) my posts have decreased dramatically as have my comments on your blogs (and for this I am sorry).  Life, grandchildren and priorities in general are the reasons for the most part. I still love books, reading and learning what others think about the books they've read but, posting and commenting sometimes feel like a job for which I'm not getting paid and as a result now take a lower priority. LOL

I was shocked when I went through the list of blogs that I've followed and read over the years, amazed to find that over 150 of the blogs I had read at one time or another are now defunct or haven't posted in several years.  Is this a new trend, the loss of book bloggers everywhere?  Have you noticed this as well?

Today I deleted all of the defunct blogs from my blog roll and posted links on my sidebar to the blogs I seem to read on a regular basis.  PLEASE let me know if I missed a link to your blog or deleted you, my regular commenters, in error -- I'll want to amend that.

I'd love to hear your thoughts on this subject.

Enjoy Your Weekend!

Sunday, May 20, 2018

A few quick reviews - A Noise Downstairs; Linwood Barclay - The Death of Mrs Westaway; Ruth Ware and Eight Hundred Grapes; Laura Dave

I can't believe it's been almost 3 weeks since I last posted here, just where do the days go? Hope everyone has been doing well.  I've still been reading quite a bit, a few really great reads and a few just okay ones.    Here's a recap:

A Noise Downstairs; Linwood Barclay
William Morrow - 2018

The set up for this psychological thriller is pretty simple, Paul Davis thinks his colleague, Ken, just might be a murderer.

Paul is a college professor who is driving home one night and notices that his colleague, Ken is driving erratically and a tail light is out, when Paul follows him,  he discovers he has two dead bodies in his car. Ken beats Paul up and nearly kills him but Paul recovers, suffering from PTSD as a result of the attack. He feels like he is losing his mind and when his therapist suggests he write about the incident that has caused him so much anguish, his wife and son buy him an antique typewriter to chronicle his thoughts.  Unfortunately, the typewriter seems to have a life of its own at night, typing sounds that only Paul seems to hear. Has Paul lost it or, is something or someone more sinister at play here?

The story is told primarily from the POV of Paul, his wife Charlotte and his therapist, Anna.  An addictive read that reels you in and keeps you guessing.  I loved how the story played out and, I felt the author did an awesome job. This is a must read for psychological fiction fans.

Rating - 5/5 stars

Gallery/Scout Press - 2018

Hal (Harriet Westaway) is a young woman who is struggling to make ends meet.  Her mother died three months earlier, a victim or a hit and run accident. Hal has followed in her footsteps as a boardwalk, physic reading tarot cards for tourists.  She's flat broke and has even borrowed money from a loan shark who is now threatening her.  

One day she receives a letter in the mail stating that a relative has died and that she's in line for an inheritance.  Although she is pretty certain that the letter was sent to her in error and mean for someone else, she's desperate and decides to travel to Cornwall for the funeral of the deceased, a woman who is supposedly her grandmother.  A reading of the will is to follow the services.

An atmospheric, creepy, Gothic type mystery with cranky, suspicious characters. The setting, Trepassen House, a creepy old mansion was ideal for the story to play out. I enjoyed the characters and the way that the story unraveled.

Rating - 4.5/5 stars

Simon & Schuster - 2015

I wanted a lighter story to listen to on my walks and this story was delightful.  Set in Sonoma Valley's wine country, 30 year old, Georgia Ford has learned quite a bit about making wine, her family owns a vineyard there.  Now, living away from home in LA, Georgia's wedding is just one week away when she learns that her husband to be has been hiding a secret.  Unsure what she should do, she returns home to her family for comfort and to sort things out, only to find that her family has been hiding something from her as well. Will Georgia sort things out, marry and move to London as she had planned or will her life take a new path?

This was a nice story about family, dreams and bumps in the road of life. Likable characters and s beautiful setting as well. This audio book was would be a nice summer reading choice.

Rating - 4/5 stars

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros - The Death of Mrs Westaway; Ruth Ware

On Tuesdays First Chapter, First Paragraph/Intros is hosted by Vickie/ I’d Rather Be at the Beach Readers are asked to share the first paragraph of a book they are reading or plans to read soon.  This week's selection hooked me right away (I'm about 1/3 into it and enjoying it). Tell me how you like the intro.

Gallery - Simon & Schuster - 2018

29th November, 1994

"The magpies are back. It's strange to think how much I used to hate them, when I first came to the house.  I remember coming up the drive in the taxi from the station, seeing them lined up along the garden wall like that, preening their feathers.

Today there was one perched on the frost-rimed branch of yew right outside my window, and I remembered what my mother used to say when I was little and whispered Hello, Mr. Magpie under my breath, to turn away the bad luck."